To prepare for the oncoming fury of Hurricane Isaac, major telecom companies have been beefing up and expanding their communications and network capabilities, so devastated areas can continue to have service during this most crucial time.
AT&T invested more than $600 million in the Network Disaster Recovery (NDR) program, and has received disaster preparedeness certification. The NDR program has more than 320 equipment trailers at its disposal for deployment during natural disasters, which works with AT&T, emergency operations centers and local response centers to maintain vital community services until permanent repairs can be made.
AT&T has made it policy to perform emergency preparedness drills throughout the year—pumping up the capacity of its wireless networks in preparation for hurricanes and other natural disasters with the installation of additional generators at strategic cell sites, and by upgrading the software and hardware needed for critical network operations.
Not to be outdone, Verizon Wireless set aside $11.8 million in 2011 to reinforce its wireless network coverage in Alabama, to ensure reliable wireless service during natural disasters. The carrier has also pioneered additional safety initiatives as part of the $70 billion nationwide program to increase its network coverage and capacity. In addition to the numerous system upgrades, Verizon customers can also make $10 donations to the American Red Cross using their mobile phones, to provide relief to the victims of Hurricane Isaac.
Sprint created their own preparedness program, concentrating their NDR staff and stage Sprint Emergency Response Team (ERT) resources in the regions most likely to get hit by Hurricane Isaac. The network also poured more than $100 million into expanding and upgrading their network capacity in the South and Southeastern United States.
The southern division of Comcast has mobilized its crews for emergency readiness in service areas most likely to be affected by Hurricane Isaac. Comcast South’s Area director, Frances Smith, maintains that Comcast has worked hard to plan and prepare for the storm’s fury: “We have crews on standby, backup fuel plans, and additional generators to support our system during power outages and minimize service interruption to our customers.”
I think it’s nice to see telecoms being helpful and civic minded in times of disaster. Of course, if you can’t communicate with your customer, they can’t pay you—so I definitely see plenty of self interest. All joking aside, the best kind of self interest is the enlightened kind, and when everyone’s suffering, every little bit of help counts, no matter who it’s from.
If you want to help the victims of Hurricane Isaac, check out the Red Cross and see how you can make a difference.